The reality is that exams are hard. Taking your boards, though, may jangle your nerves more than any other exam in your life. After all: you’ve gone through school, you’ve graduated, you’ve done exam prep and here you are. Can you be too prepared? (Answer: no. No you cannot.) These tips below take an extra step to make sure you are as ready as possible.
Manage Your Stress
Yes, taking the test is a big deal, but it’s not the only thing happening in your life, is it? You still need to sleep, exercise, eat reasonably healthy meals, and spend time with friends and family. You also have to study (and duh, of course you do) but you don’t just have to study. Think of this as the preparation for the work/life balance you’re going to have to figure out for your nursing career.
Stick to a Schedule
One of the best ways to manage stress is to stay organized. (Also: this is something you’ll do to do as a nurse, so you’re getting another head start. Yay you!) Be honest with yourself about how many hours a day/week you must study and when you are at your most productive. Set up a daily schedule in your calendar to avoid double booking. Study at the time of day when you are at your best. If you miss a day: don’t beat yourself up, but get back on schedule as soon as you can.
Get Ready for Exam Day
- You’re only going to do this once. On the day of, make sure that you:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Pack enough snacks
- Get to the testing center early
- Make sure you have reliable transportation to and from the testing center
- Bring an extra layer in case it’s cold in the testing room
- Schedule the exam at a time that works for you (if you want to sleep in, for example, schedule the test for the afternoon)
Take Prep Exams
Nothing prepares you for the real thing quite like the real thing. Take prep exams and focus on the questions that you missed. Look up questions that you answered incorrectly. Take notes and focus on areas to revisit during your next scheduled study sesh. Complete at least one or two online mock exams in their entirety and get familiar with how to pace yourself. Get to know the question bank so you know the lay of the land as well as possible.
Ignore Your Nerves
Once you’re a professional, you’re going to have to trust your training, your experience, and your knowledge. The same goes for taking the NCLEX PN. You’ve gone to a trusted and accredited nursing school. You’ve gotten hands-on instruction from healthcare professionals. You’ve done your prep. YOU GOT THIS. Take a deep breath, dig deep, and you’ll find the confidence you need. If all else fails: remind yourself that it will be over soon and that no matter what, you can go home and celebrate when you’re done.